Combating Online Bullying

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Over the weekend I’ve been raising awareness about online bullying, after an incident within the writing community where an artist attempted suicide over the immense pressure and bullying brought on over a writing group.

I’ve faced a tremendous amount of online bullying, from big name authors to the anonymous cowards following them who decided to push on every post I make to say some of the nastiest things about me, and though it’s been hard at some times, I persevered through it. But a lot of people aren’t nearly as strong as I am, and can’t face that kind of pressure — I get told so on almost a daily basis by new fans and friends who come along to encourage me (in private of course). That’s why it’s crucial for me to do what I do and to speak up, and instances like this only make it more important.

Writer Will Shetterly wrote a piece about the dangers of the mob, based on his experiences, something that first got me thinking about the topic early in the weekend.

More people than anyone knows have been attacked by fandom’s New McCarthyites. After posting Positively Fourth Street, or On being banned for … vague reasons about nearly indescribable things?, I was told more stories. I should have expected that–people whose fears keep them silent will tell things in confidence to those who speak out. Once, in an online argument, I was foolish enough to say I was supported by lurkers in email. The people on the other side assumed I was lying and mocked me. I only pitied them—if you’ve never been supported by lurkers, you’re the bully in the room.

It was terrible what happened to him. And I’ve been trying to raise awareness ever since, as it’s eerily similar to the way WorldCon treated me over rumor, innuendo, and because the leadership there had dangerously cut off conservatives from their circles, to where they view our entire movement as “literal nazis.”

But the problem only exacerbated because a woman, cover artist, was bullied by an online mob into attempted suicide, as I’ve mentioned. I don’t want to bring undue pressure onto her by naming, so I’m being careful about that, but this is the end result Will was warning about, and why we need to fight. I did a video this morning going over Daniel Arenson’s wonderful facebook post on how to prevent yourself from engaging in bullying tactics online. It starts with us. Hopefully more and more people read this until it changes the culture:

And despite the heavy message of today’s blog post, do check out my new book tomorrow, The Stars Entwined. I wanted this week to be a week to celebrate, but I have to speak when called to. My characters change their plans based on what their hearts call them to do in the book. Read it here:

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Jon Del Arroz’s Epic Military Science Fiction Extravaganza

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On Tuesday, March 20th, I’m releasing my new Mil SF book, The Stars Entwined. A book reviewer sent this to me:

A welcome window into a new sci-fi space opera from the pen of John Del Arroz, After reading both his previous works I was honored at the chance to get a review copy of The Stars Entwined opening at a frantic pace it drops you into a fully fleshed out universe without missing a beat expecting you to land on your feet and take off following the main characters of Lieutenant Sean Barrows an Internal Affairs agent with the Interplanetary Navy tasked to uncover the mystery of a lost ship within the space of the Aryshan Empire. While on the side of the Empire we have Commander Chavi Tamar di Aresh. As much of the enjoyment I got was from experiencing the story unfold I won’t go into much more detail on the plot, just know that if you enjoy space opera of Babylon 5 caliber you owe it to yourself to give The Stars Entwined a try.

I welcome the comparison to Babylon 5, certainly, as that’s what I was going for 100%.  Glad to hear it worked.

To celebrate the release, I also planned something special, which is going to be a marathon broadcast with the who’s who of the Military Science Fiction writing world. I was able to secure 66% of the 2017 Dragon Award nominees for Best Mil SF last year, and other great guests. The full list is here:

2:45 Yakov Merkin – A Greater Duty
3:00 Richard Fox – Dragon Award Winner, The Ember War
3:15 Robert Kroese – Rex Nihilo and Saga Of The Iron Dragon
3:30 C.J. Carella – Warp Marines
3:45 C.T. Phipps – Lucifer’s Star
4:00 Cedar Sanderson – Tanager
4:15 Amy J. Murphy – Dragon Award Nominee, Allies & Enemies
4:30 John F. Holmes – Dragon Award Nominee,
4:45 Mark Wandrey/ Chris Kennedy – Dragon Award Nominee, Four Horsemen Universe
5:00 Jason Anspach/Nick Cole – Galaxy’s Edge

These are the pacific time they will be appearing at the link below. Tune in, check out great books, most importantly, have fun!

And of course, you’ll want to make sure to grab The Stars Entwined, out Tuesday!!!

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White Male Author Banned From Convention For…

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…well, we’re not sure exactly what he’s banned for. But it must be really, really bad if an esteemed convention would proclaim a banning, right?

The chorus of the angry hate mob is already trying to justify yet another banning, which is tied into everything else because it always comes from the same people. Long time and respected author Will Shetterly was the most recent target of the hate brigade in recent times. His story on his blog is kind of long, so I’ll lay it down from you in brief points:

  1. This convention wanted Will to run a seminar (aka WORK HOURS FOR FREE) for them, it took a lot for Will to come but he finally gave in.
  2. They cancelled him, gave a reason that then was obviously a lie as their own words didn’t match (sound familiar?)
  3. Will investigated into why he was being blacklisted. This triggered them into a rage machine because he’s supposed to just accept the proclamation of the gatekeepers of fandom blindly.
  4. Back and forth emails where the convention tries to cover their butts.
  5. They doubled down with a “you know what? You’re BANNED from attending!”

Unbelievable, or it would be if there weren’t precedent for this sort of thing.

And the same dwindling group of people are involved. It’s always the same 50-100 people within writing or from the hate website File 770 stirring this kind of thing up. Will Shetterly did nothing wrong, observably so, but their words are basically because they took the steps to remove him (because someone didn’t like him in some whisper campaign), that therefore he might do something wrong. While Worldcon did this to me because I’m an outspoken conservative, and it makes them so scared that they make up some weird movie in their heads about me because they hate conservatives that much, that’s not the case with Will. From what I’ve seen, Will aligns politically with them, but his crime is that he doesn’t act passive-aggressive like the in-crowd does, he confronts and is direct when there’s a problem.

You know, like people who actually solve problems.

It’s the passive aggressive nature of these convention organizers and the fact that they live in a reality where they are hold up on the internet all the time, never interacting with real people. Go on their feeds, it’s a constant vague post “I can’t even!” when they’re not rambling about how Donald Trump literally makes them shake with fear.  They’re passive aggressive to the extreme, and they’ll complain about how hard it is to be introverted all the time with an equal amount of passive aggressive passion.

Get a life and get off the internet, weirdos. It’s making you sick. It’s making you hurt other people’s careers. And because they act like a group-think monkey troupe, I’m watching it escalate with the same people in a bizarre psychological study of the mentally ill.  First, they act like “huh, I don’t know…” then someone makes some rabble rousing noise, then they all start to go “well, it must be justified,” and they’re starting to escalate it to where they’re calling Will “harasser” –their go to word when they’re not screaming racist at someone — without evidence he did anything. It’s really sick.

This sort of thing needs to stop. Regular males being direct will not hurt you. I know you hate males in the science fiction publishing industry, you’ve made it clear over the years, but get over it. The problem is this sort of shame game behavior where it’s a public shaming of someone trying to force them out of their workplace is really dangerous. Wil and I are both stronger guys so we can handle the pressure, but given how indiscriminate the hate mob is, how they’ll target anyone at anytime, they’re going to end up targeting someone with a lot less strength. I hate to go here, but this is how suicides happen. Someone’s going to get hurt because these people’s shame mobs push too hard all the time.

And I don’t want that to happen. All conventions have to do is not ban people who did nothing wrong. Yes, that’s a double negative. But there’s no reason to make those proclamations and escalate things like this. It’s intentionally stirring up trouble, and intentionally hurting people over identity (whatever that identity is at the time), and that’s why I stand with Will Shetterly.

If you appreciate the stances I take, you’ll probably appreciate the stands my characters take for their convictions in The Stars Entwined, which is out on Tuesday! Check it out on Amazon and tell your friends. Reviewers are already saying this is my best work.

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Planetary Mars Anthology – Out Now

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This book’s been coming together over the last year, an anthology I edited with Mars-themed stories. I wanted to incorporate both the God of War and the Red Planet and it came together really nicely with some great stories from fantastic authors. Thank you so much to both Chuck Dixon and Kevin J. Anderson for contributing to this!

I can’t speak highly enough of a lot of these stories. A couple I really want to highlight are Jay Barnson’s “The Martian Princess” and Avily Jerome’s “To Open The Gate.” While I love all the stories in this anthology, I’ve been watching these two grow as writers. They’re going to be major forces in the field with the talent they have and folk should get used to seeing their names out there!

Anyway, pick up the anthology and read the stories for yourself. I hope you enjoy!

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For Steam And Country Is Award Nominated!

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Just a few days before the release of my next book, The Stars Entwined, I’m very honored to receive my first award nomination for For Steam And Country yesterday for the CLFA Book Of The Year Award. This Award is among 1700+ members and there was fierce competition as there were so many good books that came out in 2017.  This award really means a lot.

The audiobook just came out a couple weeks ago, and this book has just steadily sold well since last June to stellar reader reviews (almost to 100!). I think it’s a testament to the writing that there’s not one one or two star review — even with the amount of angry haters who harass me on a daily basis. It’s all been positive.

Book Two is being edited, and I think blows book 1 away. The couple of folk who have read it for feedback have told me you’ll be extremely satisfied with this outing. I’ve finished a side novella featuring James Gentry through first draft (Which will probably appear on patreon soon/first) and as you see on the side bar here, book 3 is about 25% written, so this will have a nice series to it by the middle of the year. Very much worth checking out now if you haven’t already.

It’s gonna be a great year, and we’re just getting started!

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China Mike Glyer Is Fake News – and SLOW.

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It took more than two full days for China Mike Glyer to put up my report on FOGCon’s excellent work as a convention on his hate speech website — and of course, he attempted to turn what was a positive event for everyone in the community, into a call for science fiction authors to attack me. Like he always does.

He has two problems this time:

  1. Too much information has been aired about FOGCon already, namely by me, in my periscope broadcasts and on my blog. In terms of his journalism, he’s slow. We’ve had full news cycles come and go in the time it took for him to come up with his smear tactic.
  2. He couldn’t even come up with something. He did a fake ‘asking questions” which I’ll get to in a second… but there was nothing there. People read it and went “huh, Jon didn’t cause a problem, the convention acted correctly, all is good here — just like Jon was saying.”

As much as he accused me of trying to stir up drama — I just asked my fans and readers what I should wear. My readers have fun with that, no one else cares. It’s not stirring up drama until, well, China Mike ex post facto, tries to make it so. But wearing a t-shirt supporting my science fiction publisher or my brand at a science fiction convention should not cause a problem. If it does, what does that say about the science fiction group starting drama?

It didn’t. Because as I stated in my last post about the matter, the FOGCon group are consummate professionals and did a great job. Mike Glyer is very obviously trying to stir up hate and animosity where there is none — this is ALL his website does.

Let’s get back to his fake journalism. “Broadcasting what, you might ask?”  Mike knows I have a daily periscope in which I broadcast news about science fiction, read from The Holy Bible, and talk about fun stuff with my audience. He’s trolling through my twitter after all, and Periscope links there. The Chairman of FOGCon watched my broadcast on the event, told me so, in which I only said nice things about the con. Not only is Mike lazy with being slow, but he’s lazy with even researching enough to come up with the full story. As a real, professional journalist, this is why his site’s such a joke.

Other than the low traffic. Rabble rousing about me is the only way he gets clicks. He has to get that same group of the same like 10 authors (I can name them — and they’re probably here. Hi Cat Rambo, James Palmer, JJ, Kurt Busiek, Laura Resnick and non authors Lurkertype and Camestros. How are you doing?) to ramble on repeat and create a lot of noise. The effect is it makes it look like there’s a lot of outraged offended people — but the truth is the opposite. My reach and readership suprasses all of those listed, which is where this stems from, jealousy.  They don’t have readers, some proof by today’s referrer views on my site, which he linked to (only a few hours into the day)

Facebook 333 clicks!

China Mike’s hate Site 1 click!

My social media reach destroys file 770 which is at the very bottom of referrers on the list.

But that’s why China Mike keeps talking about me — I get him traffic. I’m consistently on his top viewed posts for the month when he rambles about me. Those same few people I listed refresh over and over to make hateful comments, and what they do and what Mike does is absolutely shameful.

We made incredible progress this weekend for diversity and inclusivity. I, as a Hispanic conservative author, outreached to some good people at FOGCon and shook hands. I’m building bridges. File 770 only wants to tear down. The more it doesn’t work, the more desperate they get. But as you see — they’ve got nothing.

But what China Mike does is dangerous. It inspires people to try to hurt me, to make it unsafe for me at conventions. Worse, it puts the FOGCon group in awkward positions because they know I’ve done nothing wrong, but they will now get pressure to have me banned next time because of the nonsense Mike spouts. In FOGCon’s case, they knew better. Other conventions have not been so professional.

Mike — you need to stop. Let’s get back to science fiction and love and community. Here’s how we can start:

I’m six days from releasing a new book, which is real news. News that I doubt China Mike will post about, despite his outright lie that it’s a science fiction news site. He doesn’t care about books, doesn’t care about art, just destroying. I, on the other hand, am not just a critic, I work hard and produce great content. You can check out The Stars Entwined and have it pre-ordered and ready to read for Tuesday, and I suggest you do so if you love science fiction like the readers here.

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Book Review: Dream Of The Iron Dragon by Robert Kroese

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I’ve been a fan of Robert Kroese for a couple of years. I discovered him with The Big Sheep, which is an excellent novel, and went into his Rex Nihilo adventures, which are a star wars-ish parody that really is a love letter to sci-fi. What they have in common is a lot of comedy, and I almost would think of Kroese as the Terry Pratchett of Sci-Fi (if that weren’t already Douglas Adams).

He launched The Saga Of The Iron Dragon as a kickstarter last year, to a lot of buzz. Vikings in spaaaaace! I thought I might find something ridiculous and off the wall as his other concepts, but the more I read into it, this was more of a serious venture.

Kroese did a lot of research on this as well. He took a trip to the Nordic countries last year, and I saw the stacks of books he posted when he was reading up on Vikings. He put the work in, had a cool concept, and is definitely a very smart guy to be able to piece together some cool history and make a story. But would he succeed in a more serious venture with his work?

The Dream Of The Iron Dragon opens in modern times, a prologue of people investigating what appears to be a space ship crash in Iceland in modern times. Not what I expected, but I was interested in that perspective. It set up a mystery, and just as I was getting comfortable, we shifted to the future.

In this future, humanity is at war with a single alien race, who’s been kicking our butts. Earth is all but uninhabitable, and humans are struggling to survive. There’s alien jump gates that allow us to go from system to system, and we find our story taking place on a science vessel who is investigating an asteroid out in the middle of nowhere. They come across the alien race and something mysterious, and it’s a really awesome space opera war set up that takes a good portion of the book. As much as I’d been waiting for vikings, this surprised me how much of the book this took up, but I was very invested in this greater world by Kroese’s expert characterization and gripping suspense. As this part drew to an end, and i knew what was coming–they were being flung back in time, I almost didn’t want this portion of the story to end– and i hope he gets back to it in future books.

Without giving too may spoilers from this point, a shuttle from the ship crash lands on Earth in viking times, and hijinx ensues. The crew is trying to survive, and also to get back, but plans go desperately wrong. We switch perspectives to crew we met before, but didn’t have intimate time with, as we were dealing with those running the ship, which I was sad for at first, but I quickly became just as attached to these characters as any of the others. The vikings get a few perspective points as well — and they’re just as deep and intricate of characters. I really can’t speak too highly of how well Kroese did on that front.

Kroese teaches us quite a bit about the history of the Nordic countries from this time too, just in little snippets so it’s never too overwhelming. There are points where there’s a bit of infodump, but it’s interesting, and mostly history we don’t hear a terrible amount about, so it’s a learning experience that almost feels like earlier Heinlein novels when he drifts into his scientific concepts.

Through the first half of the book, it’s about perfect. There’s a big battle mini-climax at a point which is just awesome. I will say from about half to two thirds, the pace bogs down a little bit. I’m still trying to avoid spoilers, but there’s points when goes into montage-explain mode where the crew needs to perform a task, they use some science to do it, and they complete it. This is done three or four times and along with the history lessons, slowed down this portion of the book to where maybe some of it could be cut or glossed over. I understand the necessity of most of it, but it did make for some skimable material.

It picks right back up for an epic climax… and ends on a cliffhanger. We aren’t resolved at all beyond getting past a single hump in this history section that was set up about 30% into the book, which is a big one, but it leaves this feeling like a part of a book rather than complete because of it. Now, Kroese never set expectations otherwise, so it’s very much as advertised and is imminently forgivable — it was billed as a trilogy going in, and the way the books are titled it’s kinda obvious they wouldn’t just get back into space and come back into the present in this first installment, so I don’t feel cheated as a reader. but I hate cliffhangers! That’s just me. Some people won’t have a problem with this at all, but definitely go into this knowing you’ll need 3 books for the complete story.

It did work, the cliffhanger. I’m interested. I’m hooked. I really want the next one to come out. That last battle in the book was epic. The stakes were high throughout, and the danger is real to the characters. I can’t offer more without massive spoilers, but even with the slow down in pacing and my lack of closure, frankly this is the best book I’ve read this year and I think it’ll be hard pressed for me to find one in 2018 that I”ll enjoy more. Of course, now he has to top this for the next one.

Overall, the complaints are minor, and this book is solid science fiction. World building is A+. History A+. Characters A+, can’t really ask for more than that. I haven’t firmly concluded my Dragon Awards list yet, but it’s currently my frontrunner for Best Science Fiction category.

You can check out Dream of the Iron Dragon here. 


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Writing To Your Audience

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DC posted a strange tweet today regarding one of their comics, seeming to double down on the “we’re going to make comics without action that is just signaling identity politics” that’s spreading through the comic industry like cancer.  It made me think about writing to your audience, and the trouble the comic industry is having with doing just that, which is causing a good portion of their sales woes. As a lot of people here are interested in writing, I figured it’d be best to break down where your duty to your audience begins if you want to maintain/grow them, rather than turn them away.

For years, it was browbeat into me “strong female lead strong female lead strong female lead” to get published. This is true. If you want a contract with the dwindling number of New York publishers over the last 20 years, you have to do that — but as a male writer, it would be an uphill battle because they also then demand more “authentic” voices as if men can’t write females, even when they demand the females in their content act more like men.

As I was working to try to get published in this regard, I wrote my first three novels with, of course, strong female leads. You probably read them in Star Realms: Rescue Run and For Steam And Country. And you’ll see another in The Stars Entwined. Though, since my first books came out, I gained a substantive audience in the thousands, a large amount of my readers have seen how books in the last 20 years told them, as men, that they are overrepresented and they must read strong female leads! Every book has subsequently become such, saturating the market, and becoming stale to people who read science fiction.

While most of my readers (including my female readers) told me I write strong female leads very well, they let me know that they didn’t feel catered to in the content, and I took that in mind. The extremist identity politics folk love to use the phrase “not all stories have to be for YOU”, in an attempt to browbeat readers into reading something they don’t like or find fun, but I find this phrase is useful in another context, for authors.

I love kick ass chicks. It wasn’t hard for me to write them because that’s always what I wanted to visualize. My favorite DC character is Stephanie Brown — Spoiler, my favorite Marvel was the MC2 Spider-Girl. When I played WoW, I played a blood elf female because I wanted to look at that when I was spending hours a day — and not the backside of some dude.  So I was naturally predisposed in my imagination to do similar to my favorites. But my audience demands something different.

In The Stars Entwined I adjusted my original book in edits to boost the resourcefulness of the male lead (there’s 2 leads that co-star) so I could give my audience more of what they wanted. Showing that kind of nod to your audience is a good thing–because it lets them know you care about them, which is the most important part of building a brand. I personally really like having a couple of perspective characters so people can identify a bit better with them for a broader market, so I maintained that in this book without sacrificing what my readers want, and will have similar in the next book I come out with. Since I wrote the next one after I found my audience and I’m aware of them, I made some adjustments to my writing. I made the dude character more of a fighter, and have him be much more predominantly a strong male lead. My audience wants that, I’ll deliver. It’s the sensible thing to do for my business.

And that’s what being a content creator is about. If you want sustained business, you keep your soul certainly, because authenticity is important as well, but push your content so that the readers get what they want. I’ve done similar on my blog — I used to do periodic posts about baseball, my audience didn’t like that, so I stopped doing it. I’m similarly moving comic reviews off this site to Bounding Into Comics because the people who come here often don’t want the comic reviews. It’s sensible business to make sure the content is directed at the people who are supporting me.  These stories don’t all have to be for ME…but they do all have to be for YOU, my reader.

What Marvel/DC and the big publishers miss, is that they don’t just have a variety of stories, they only have one story, which they push out on repeat. The same identity politics garbage where it not only isn’t what the readers want, but it actively puts a middle finger to the readers they have, and tells them they’re not wanted, we want another group to read us. And as they’re finding was they get nichier with what they publish, those readers aren’t out there and can’t sustain them. Instead of trying to refocus their content on what they want, they actually use these instances as gimmicks to try to get people talking about these books that no one would be talking about otherwise, enraging their audience to get temporary sales boosts, which hurts them over the long run.

For newer writers, this is hard. You haven’t identified your audience or your own voice. Definitely experiment from that perspective, but you’ll quickly see what people like and what people don’t as you publish and put more out there. Keep it in mind as you progress, and always be telling your audience you love them. That’s how you keep people around to build your brand and expand it.

If you like how I tailor my stories,  you’ll love The Stars Entwined. It’s got a lot of something for everyone, and it’s the story I’m most proud of having written so far. Check it out, releasing in one week on March 20th! You can pre-order here. 


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Someone Tried To Get Me Kicked Out Of A Sci-Fi Convention… And You’ll Never Believe What Happened Next!

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Lately I’ve been reporting on a lot of trouble in science fiction conventions. Even though the attendees, guests, and organizers often beat their chests and signal to each other constantly by shouting “diversity and inclusivity!” from the rooftops, the reality of these conventions is often anything but diverse or inclusive because of the way they actively shun any ideology or identity but a single voting block. 

My mere act of reporting on these problems since last February has caused a lot of people in power in the science fiction publishing industry to try to silence me by threats, intimidation, harassment, and blacklisting.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

The Origin Story:

I attended the San Francisco Bay Area’s Friends Of Genre (FOG) Convention this weekend, a convention I’ve been to twice before. This is a convention I’ve spent time with some minor editors in the field, and met Angry Robot Book’s Michael Underwood and shared a drink and good conversation with him. I was fairly well known even before becoming very popular with my award-nominated books and journalism for very high profile sites.

That all changed last year when hate website File 770 wrote article after article attempting to defame me, incite other authors to hate me, and encouraged the powers that be in the field to say horrible things about me. It’s been surreal, and bizarre, but it’s been innuendo, rumor, falsehoods, and it’s only escalated.

If you’re aware, it escalated so much that Worldcon — the premier conference in our field — made an unprecedented move in banning me because of their petty political squabbles. They were adamant that me as a popular writer and journalist cannot attend, holding me to standards others were not because of my political affiliation. Their calling me a “racist bully” on their website only further enflamed bigger names in the field, creating a derangement where people just went unhinged. The amount of intimidation and nasty remarks I’ve received over the last couple of months have been pure torture. And it’s not going to calm down any time soon unless Worldcon does the right thing and apologizes.

I Wanted To Attend A Sci-Fi Convention As A Sci-Fi Author

Several friends were going to FOGCon, so I decided to attend. I was cautious about it, because I was well aware there are a lot of people who despise me over my journalism and political affiliation — something well known, and so I didn’t buy a ticket to try to avoid conflict with the convention staff, but decided to go to the hotel bar at the convention. With my friends, I had a great half hour, talking books, not bothering anyone. The room, however, was giving me angry glares shooting in my direction (I saw you!). People were whispering about me. The environment was a hostile one for my mere act of being present, peacefully sharing drinks with friends. It was very bizarre and creepy. And it became more frightening.

A really large man (6’8″!) came up to me from to the side. “Hey Jon,” he said, as if he were familiar. My heart started racing. My friends later told me that because of the oppressiveness of the room that I was already hunched over, looking stressed. My body language betrayed the sensation of pain inside me from receiving that much negativity. You can only imagine how this would put someone on edge, as not many people have been in a room with this much hostility before, including myself. I looked up. I didn’t know the guy, making my spider-sense tingle more. I’ve faced a lot of online harassment, was this someone who had been after me?

The man proceeded to grill me, rattling off questions in a challenging manner. “What are you doing here? Why? Are you intending on broadcasting here? Are you going to be bothering anyone?” They came in rapid succession, challenging…. I finally told him “this tone is getting pretty hostile,” as I wasn’t sure what he was getting at at all.

This is where things changed. His eyes widened a little and he said, “Oh!” The man dropped to his knees and smiled. “I’m 6’8″ I guess that can be a little intimidating. Is this better?” His tone changed to something a little more humorous. Almost expertly, this man defused the situation and the tension that had been escalating evaporated.

We started talking at length, and I learned this man was from the convention security, and that someone had complained about my presence there — in essence doing exactly what I was afraid of happening atWorldCon — trying to harass me via making false claims to convention security into getting kicked out, even though I’d done nothing wrong. This fellow with security at FOGCon though was very different, and actually showed how great conventions and the science fiction community can be.

The conversation migrated from the bar, as we got dinner and broke bread together after that, for more conversation. I briefly was able to say hi to my good friends and excellent writers Andrew Roberts and Brian C.E. Buhl in passing on the way… and then the most surreal thing happened.

On the way back to being seated, we passed a group from the Codex Writers forum, the forum who removed me from the group simply for saying “don’t attack another author.” Their members actually narrowed their eyes and glared at me as I walked past, as if to tell me I shouldn’t be allowed to be there. It was a nasty intimidation tactic by them — and to the Codex Writers — why do you act like this? what do you think you’re going to accomplish other than becoming a living embodiment of the Mean Girls memes? It’s not helpful to your business, act like adults. Talk to me instead of going on your forum and saying nasty stuff behind my back. It’s only a bad look for you. But I digress.

The fellow from convention security was wonderful in every regard. He certainly is one of the smarter people I’ve had the pleasure of talking to, and is a genuine, wonderful human being who cares about others. I really wish we could all be more like him. This is the type of person conventions should be having running things, someone who de-escalates situations and isn’t there to discriminate, a great move by FOGCon having him there. Let him be a blueprint for other conventions. I’d name him… but, I don’t want him to have to face any ire in his community just for being praised by me. He’s not an author, just a good guy, and I don’t want to inadvertently cause him harm.

But Was I Going To Be Welcome? 

After the evening with con security, I went home. And I thought about it.

Was I just sequestered by security, taken away from the convention over the course of the evening and ushered out? Was this really a good evening or did I lose what I was trying to accomplish by being present, being a human face for a group that’s discriminated against openly by the science fiction publishing elites, and not being able to talk to others and show that?

It looked like it to some extent. So I was worried. I thought about it the rest of the evening. And I decided on a course of action: I would attempt to actually buy a ticket.

This would serve a couple of purposes: 1. it would confirm if the convention really was acting in good faith and 2. I’d be able to support them financially if they were. Both things I wanted to be true and do.  I didn’t want to buy one and risk the kick out the night before, but I’d had my night with my friends at least, and made some progress. Now it was time to put my money where my mouth was.

I showed up the next morning, migrated down stairs and asked to buy a ticket for the day. The two wonderful women running registration didn’t know who I was (which is an interesting aside — even with as high of a profile as I have, only a few people like the Codex Writers even recognize me — they have no power, there’s very few of them even though they’re loud, and you don’t need to be intimidated by them!), and were eager to sell me a ticket. I was just about to wrap up paying, when convention chairman Steven Schwartz asked me to step aside and chat with him.

It was frightening again. What was going to happen? Was this the “you need to vacate the premises” I was afraid of?

Just like the security fellow from the night before, Schwartz asked a couple of questions, his tone was pleasant, he had genuine concern — not only for the safety of others, but what blew me away was he was concerned for my safety as well. He asked some questions based on the absurd rumors propagated by Worldcon that I was some boogeyman, I let him know I never intended anything of the sort at any con nor even implied it — for FOGCon or Worldcon, and Schwartz took me as a man of my word (which I am), and told me if anyone tried to attack or harm me, he would defend me as surely as anyone else.

Talk about refreshing!

I actually went into a panel where he was speaking about how people group themselves– a very apt topic for what’s going on in sci-fi. It was a great panel. Though the panelists all made jokes about Trump and Trump supporters, and everyone kinda gasped when someone mentioned Vox Day like he’s Literally Voldemort, and it was very one sided… it mostly stayed away from the political. In those moments I thought about speaking up, but did not. It wasn’t the time. Though I hope my continued presence can start moving these conversations away from the petty partisan politics in the future, and get us back to sci-fi. When people think there’s no one there who thinks differently, it will always devolve into those jabs, which only perpetuates the cycle of keeping conservatives away from the cons. It’s going to take a lot of work and time to change. Still, the panel was run well, and it didn’t go off into tangent-land on these political topics, which is all that can be expected for now.


After the panel, I hung out and relaxed, getting lunch at the bar. I had a great conversation with another writer, saw a couple of people from the panel and had good chats with them as well, all was good. The tension had been diffused fully.

I have to say, getting glares and knowing that people are actively trying to remove you from a convention is exhausting. The amount of stress and pressure it puts on you is very overwhelming, even for someone like me who’s used to taking heat. A lot of people won’t even think about that so it needs to be said.

This post will make the rounds almost certainly, and so convention organizers, listen up: there are a lot of conservative authors. they don’t attend these cons because they are made to feel like this, and it’s not fun, and it’s awful. The several hours I spent while getting glares was extremely tough. No other groups have to deal with this sort of thing at sci-fi conventions these days. You want real diversity and inclusivity? Act like FOGCon’s Steven Schwartz.

Honestly, it was handled great by the convention staff. They can’t help the glares, they can’t help the hate from the Codex Writers and a few of their friends, they can only make sure it’s clear that everyone is welcome, that science fiction is a place about ideas — all ideas — and that’s how we pave a way to a better future. And that’s exactly what FOGCon did.

With all the rumors, they were right to ask questions, even if the rumors are based on fabrications by another convention over petty politics. In contrast, Worldcon never bothered trying to talk to me, never attempted to resolve things, they just dug their heels in “hate of the other” and that’s where the situation escalated tragically. FOGCon did the opposite. They walked the walk, they talked, they treated me like a human being and it worked out great for everyone. It’s all I ever wanted, and it’s my mission to present the human face and be a person where it’s safe to ask questions, where it’s safe to talk to. It’s going to be a long road before conservatives feel like they’re safe to be open and out of the closet at many of these conventions, but if it can be done in San Francisco, it can be done across the country.

This is what convention organizers should do:

  1. Make sure you have right-wing/conservative/Christian representation among your panelists.
  2. Make sure it’s known that the convention is NOT a political fundraiser for one party or about elections. We’re here for sci-fi and geek fun. Adjust your programming accordingly.
  3. Know a conservative author is attending the con? Talk to them. We’re people too, and you’ll see we’re not the boogeymen the hate websites make us out to be. The echo chamber has been very bad in recent years, and odds are you don’t even see our perspectives.
  4. For conflict resolution, follow FOGCon’s model. Ask questions. See who the person is. Approach it with an open mind.

Only with these steps can we ensure fandom is a safe place for everyone. And if these steps are taken, you’ll start to see an increase in attendance, because right now, half the country feels like they’re not welcome. That’s a large group of people who should be reading books (and are if you look at the sales of people like me, Larry Correia, Nick Cole and others), and should be able to have fun discussions too. Right now the world is a tough place because of social media, but we are the visionaries of the future. Let’s work together and change it.

Great work FOGCon. You have my full support and endorsement and I look forward to next year.

If you appreciate the work I’m doing for civil rights in fandom, support my books! My new novel, The Stars Entwined, is coming out next week. It has themes about how people can ostracize the other when no one talks, and how dangerous that can end up. And also lets people know we’re more similar than we are different. You’ll love it if you love great space opera.

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Friend Friday: Lessons From Self Publishing

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Good morning everyone. It’s been a couple of weeks but today we return to our Friend Friday content, where I give other authors a voice on this wonderful platform. His new book is a science horror, and looks really intriguing. A.K. Preston is a good Christian man who from all I’ve seen has a wonderful work ethic and drive. Someone to watch for in the future. Here’s what he learned from self-publishing, and maybe it can help you: 

Lessons from a Self-Publishing Newbie: The Case of The Gevaudan Project

You’ve probably all heard the story of the naive author who just wants to write and thinks publishing will take care of itself. When I first began work on my sci-fi thriller novel The Gevaudan Project four years ago, that was me. The experience that followed has made me a much more sober – and hopefully wiser – man.

My original manuscript was approximately 150,000 words and took about a year and a half to write. After finishing the final draft around 2015, I finally began looking at the different options for publishing. Being blindly prejudiced at the time, I dismissed self-publishing right off the bat (it wasn’t “real” publishing in my mind) and began sending out queries for a literary agent.

Most new authors are simply not prepared for the long-drawn out wait and frequent rejections involved in the query process, and I was one of them. I sent around 30 before giving up. In retrospect, I should have done 80 or more.

At this point, I gave self-publishing a second look and discovered CreateSpace. It’s a truly wonderful and cost-effective tool if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to use it properly. In my case… not so much. The idea of print-on-demand had me hypnotized – I was looking for a quick, easy way to monetize my book. With no marketing or promotion. At all (you can all stop laughing now).

I ultimately self-published the book on Amazon under the title Harvest of Prey. My thought was that I could leave it there for the time being, move on to my next project and have it re-published at some time in the future. The model I had in mind was Daniel Suarez’s novel Daemon, which had been self-published in 2006 and then reprinted in 2009 by Dutton Press.

As it turned out, however, there was one big difference between Daniel Suarez and myself – he had sold a truly significant number of books while self-published. With no marketing except to family and friends, I barely managed 30 sales over the course of nine months. The significance of this only became apparent in 2017, when I sent one final query to the Steve Laube Agency.

Steve read my first three chapters, recommended some revisions, and ultimately requested the full manuscript. Several months later, he contacted me again and said he really liked my story. This was farther than I had gotten than on any of my previous queries, and I thought I had finally made it. I had an agent! I was going to be published!

Then the follow-up questions came. When seeking a traditional publisher, it is required that all previous sales histories be reported to them. Many of them only take on one first-time author per year and the competition for that slot is extremely fierce. Every publisher is essentially a venture capitalist looking for a return on their investment. They go through hundreds of thousands of candidates annually and they have to make snap decisions as to who they’ll accept. It’s a big enough risk for them to take on an unknown author with no prior record of book sales. But if they see someone who has sold books before but with limpid sales figures…

I had shot myself in the foot. Steve had to tell me “not yet” – given my decision to self-publish beforehand, he’d be better able to bring me on board if I could point to sales in the thousands.

You can all probably imagine what I was thinking and feeling after that kind of a setback – so close, yet so far! But I picked myself up and decided on a new approach. My contact with Steve had still proved extremely helpful – his recommended revisions resulted in a more taut, readable narrative of 137,000 words as opposed to the original 150,000. If I took the time to do things properly, I could still go somewhere with this.

So I sat down, did some final revisions, retired Harvest of Prey from Amazon, and starting truly
developing my Author Platform for the first time as I prepared to launch The Gevaudan Project. In the end, this experience finally opened my eyes to the true opportunities for an Indie author. Ironically for a sci-fi writer, my view of publishing was decades out of date. Why was I a seeking a publishing contract that would likely involve sacrificing at least 90 percent of the profits from my book sales while I would still be responsible for virtually all of my own marketing?

My advice to other new writers: don’t be a snob. Embrace your identity as a self-publisher from the very beginning. Start a blog, build a website when you have the means, and grow a mailing list with free content for subscribers – short stories don’t take all that long to write and an awesome way to introduce your full-length books. Build connections whenever possible – reach out to fellow authors and podcasters. Promote their content – it costs you nothing to participate in a blog tour every now and then, and many authors will gladly send you free copies of their work in exchange for reviews. In fact, make a habit of reviewing every book you read – it makes great blog content and can be easily shared.

And most important of all, remember this: every experience is valuable – even the setbacks. It all depends on how you use them.

Don’t forget to check out his new book, the Gevaudan Project, available now on Amazon. 

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