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What I’ve Learned

In an interesting post today on G+ John Ward ask us “What have you learned, and where did you learn it?” He wanted sources. The idea is that others might learn from that source as well. It’s a fantastic idea, but I’ve got a LOT of sources, so I am going to list them here on my blog instead of in a reply on G+.

Self Publishing

So the big one, self publishing. I didn’t know self publishing was really an achievable goal until I ran into The Self Publishing Podcast. They introduced me to several other podcasts like The Creative Penn, Rocking Self Publishing, and The Sell More Books Show. All of them are fantastic resources on the publishing mindset, marketing, and strategies to get known.

Publishing the Traditional way

Before self publishing there was traditional publishing. I actually went through quite a bit of that back in 2000 trying to get that prestige. (I’ve had several articles and a short story published in magazines, mostly Queensland Fantastic that use to be in Australia.)

To figure out how to do all of this I relied mainly on one book. How to get Happily Published. It was the most informative step by step book, letting me know exactly what to expect, what steps I needed to take, some helpful suggestions on getting the words right, and how to format the manuscript correctly. Great resource, if you are going trade publish I highly recommend it. The Writers Guidelines is also useful to find various publishers/addresses/etc, but a lot of that is also available online.

World Building

I love world building. From sketching maps, to creating new races and creatures. I love building up a society from the ground, and making the world flow together. BUT! In order to do all of that you need to have some basis in reality to build upon. You need to know how land and weather work. How different ecology’s boarder each other, and creatures might develop in those places. You have to figure out how governments, religions, and societies work together.

The only classes I felt really helped me in college were the classes regarding history, and anthropology. But I’m not going to recomend you go to a college when you can learn the same thing via documentaries and books.

One of my favorite books about the simplest thing is Salt: A World History. It’s amazing how much of our history of exploration, war, expansion, and industry revolved around this simple mineral. On the same vein, How Beer Saved the World (video) shows how man may have gone from hunter/gatherer to agriculture because of this wonderful thing called beer. Again showing how the small things effect the grander scale.

I also enjoyed books on competitive religion, astrology, mythology, astronomy, physiology, economy, ecology…. Just everything. Non fiction books and documentaries are wonderful treasure troves when fleshing out how own world and I found that every time I read/watched something new I had a little tid-bit to add to my worlds. This isn’t something you get all at once, it is from a lifetime of gathering little bits of information. Watching, observing, and internalizing, and eventually it just congeals on  your own story. It isn’t as though I plan for certain aspects to come out, they just often are there and only later do I realize that it was inspired by a specific thing I read long ago.

I’m not sure what else anyone else would be interested in. If you have any specific thing you’re looking for a refrence for let me know, I might have come across it at one point.

Also, I do have a page of references available here with some other little things I didn’t mention.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in On Writing

 

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A long week

It’s been ten days since I started coming down with a cold. I felt drippy, achy, coughy… Ya, it was terrible. Is terrible. It is now day 10 and I still am feeling run down and tired. I finally went to the doctor and she said all I could do was take time to let it run it’s course. I didn’t have a bacterial infection, just a normal virus and there isn’t a cure for that. At least she gave me some strong cough syrup. Maybe I can get my voice back again.

So it’s Tuesday. Usually we have Story Telling Podcast on Tuesdays. Last week we didn’t because Garrett and I were sick. This week I’m sick. I don’t know if they will be doing the hang out tonight, but I literally can’t speak. My voice is entirely gone. I was told not to talk at all. So I’m talking with my fingers through the keyboard.

2015-02-13 21.55.24I think part of the reason I’m still sick after ten days is that I spent the weekend at Radcon having fun with Gregg and Trish. I even sold a book! It was kind of awesome. Here are some pictures from the con!

There was so much to see. So many people dressed up as their favorite characters, or just fighting. Even some fire dancing. We went to a few panels and did a lot of shopping. Learned a lot.

Next year I plan to go again. In fact Gregg and I want to make cons a regular part of our lives and try to hit three of them a year. We live in a great area for it. There are tons of conventions near Seattle. RadCon and NorWes con are the two we are definitely going to go to. The third might be the “lets experiment until we find the one where we belong.”

Because that is what we both found at Radcon… we belonged. Or rather it really felt like it. I am terrible at talking to random people, and yet while at RadCon I couldn’t help but just talk to people and tell them how nice their outfit was, or how great their paint was. I couldn’t help sharing my fangirl over a certain comic or anime. I was surrounded by people who loved the same things I did, and it was amazing!

If you ever have a chance to go to a convention I suggest you do so. There are tons of them. Some for Sci-fi, some for steam punk, and many for very specific things like Star Trek, Dr Who and Firefly. Find the one that really encompasses your inter fandom and meet people who love what you love.

Just don’t do it while you’re sick if you can help it. That was the only down side to the whole thing and I had to miss out on after parties because of the sickness. Ug!

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in On Writing

 

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What is short fiction good for?

Back in 2012 I wrote a lot of short stories and published them inside anthologies. It seemed a reasonable thing to do. I had the stories. I just learned about self publishing. May as well, right?

Lately I’ve been working on novels. I want longer works available on amazon, and really I’d like a full length book sitting on my shelf with my name on it. Plus they atract more readers then shorts do.

But I’ve looked at those short stories from time to time thinking “there must be something I can do with them.”

The prevailing thought seems to be “give them away,” and I’ve done some of that. I have several available on my wattpad, and my website. I don’t mind giving away my work, but I’d rather do so with the intention of sending readers to something larger.

Which is the second thing you can do. Many authors give away smaller stories (shorts or novellas) that take place in the world of their novels. This gets people interested in their world, and might get them sales. An agreeable method. However, most of my short stories are stand alone thus not fit for that.

Magazines are another possiblity. Some of them pay well, and there are several search engines to help you find the best magazines for your story. The down side is that many of them want first publication rights, and very few of them will pay to publish a work that is less than 2000 words.

Anthologies are a useful alternative. I’ve gotten several new readers through my short story collection. You can pay a group of short or flash fiction on amazon, and the other retailers for $2.99, but they don’t sell as well as books. I have found that making them perma free to get eyes on your work is the best use of some of them, but perhaps not all of them.

Then today I heard of a few new websites… Websites that pay for content, for short stories, and are even specifically looking for flash fiction.

http://dailysciencefiction.com pays 8 cents a word for stories under 1500 words. It has to be science fiction, and flash fiction.

https://quarterreads.com allows authors to upload stories and essays that are under 2000 words and once approved they pay you 22 cents per read. It costs the reader a quarter. That’s 88% royalties.

A few years back I was part of an online community called Red Paper that was the first to do these sort of micro transactions. You paid in at least $5 to get an account with some credits, and used those credits at your discretion. It was a wonderful community and I made a little money from it, but it was limited, and before it’s time. Now micro transactions are an every day thing. I mean look at Candy Crush!

I would love to see more websites and/or apps for this. There are still people who enjoy short fiction. I’d love to see more things that cater to the short fiction reader.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2015 in On Writing

 

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Recharging

IMAG0710Yesterday was an amazing day. I had such a wonderful time at Cirque du Soleil. Absolutely wonderful, breathtaking work. (Click the picture to go to the album of photos I took.)

So, today…. I rested. I sat back, listened to podcasts, played some games, and did nothing at all. Yesterday was amazing, today was good. Tomorrow… back to work I go so I’m recharging my batteries as much as possible today.

But it did get me to thinking, I wrote about taking time to enjoy the little things (or was that in a vlog?) like making cute little craft items. I also think you should take time to recharge and relax. Write every day if you can, but don’t be afraid to take a day or two off now and then. Relaxing for me is hiding behind shut doors, sitting around the house in PJs and just sipping hot tea. Maybe for you it’s a party, or a hike through the woods. Maybe it’s sitting beside a quiet lake in the sunshine enjoying a fantastic book.

Whatever it is, go do it. Relax, enjoy, recharge, and get back to the words tomorrow. You’re fingers, and your mind, will thank you for it.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2015 in Commentary, NaNoWriMo

 

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Min wage for min work

I just had to share this comment from reddit because it was so well said.

The American economy is becoming less friendly to skilled workers. Look at many autoplants and other industrial factories. What 40 years ago was a workforce with many specialists, led by foremen who had risen from the ranks of those specialist workers, is being replaced by a workforce of generalists who work jobs further simplified to smaller individual tasks, are lower paid, not encouraged to specialize, and led on the shop floor by college graduate managers who never worked in the factory a day in their lives. Job training isn’t enough without the economic demand.

If you believe everyone should work a skilled job for a living, you have to either ensure that there are skilled jobs for everyone, or recognize that what you’re saying is “some people should starve despite their best efforts.”

These people are doing productive labor in a majorly profitable industry, yet are paid starvation wages. And that’s not just a problem for them. Taxpayers are effectively paying massive subsidies to keep these businesses functioning in this way. The largest private employer in the United States, Wal-Mart, costs taxpayers $6.2 billion per year in public assistance designed to keep its low-wage workers alive, according to one estimate. Wal-Mart also has a huge share of the food stamp market ($13.5 billion in sales in 2013), so they’re paying such shit wages, we have to give their workers benefits to stay alive, which they’ll likely need to turn around and spend at Wal-Mart for groceries, essentially allowing the company to double-dip in their massive taxpayer subsidies.

For McDonald’s, $1.2 billion of taxpayer money goes to supporting their underpaid workers, part of the fast food industry’s $7 billion annually. And they can afford better. The ten largest corporations were responsible for $3.8 billion in 2012, while making $7.4 billion in profits AFTER paying out $7.7 billion in dividends and buybacks to shareholders.

If we raise wages to a livable level, however, they won’t take it out of their profits and dividends. They’ll raise prices. That’s partially the greed of the executives, but largely the greed of the stockholders. Why park your capital in a company making 2% growth when you can move it to one making 6%? That’s just self-interest, and it’s the motivating factor for companies to squeeze costs, including labor. That’s capitalism.

Every time universal free-at-point-of-need medical care comes up, people bring up that it’s not *really* free because it’s being paid for in your taxes. Well, when you think about how cheap fast food is, remember, it’s not *really* that cheap, you’re paying for it in your taxes.

We’re spending billions of dollars of our money to prop up bloated corporations paying their workers shit wages so they can pump out shit food that is killing our people.

From http://www.reddit.com/r/AdviceAnimals/comments/2uotqv/scumbag_mcdonalds/coal181

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2015 in News

 

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Constant contact

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Tomorrow I am going to Cirque du Soleil. I’m excited! It’s going to be so amazing, I can’t wait!

So today, while thinking about it, I randomly thought “I’m going to have to mute my phone for that”. Not “I’ll need to turn it off,” or “I won’t need my phone.” no, there is the expectation in my own mind that I will have my phone and my children will be able to reach me is that need to. I would feel guilty for having fun and enjoying a movie, or a show and finding out after that something horrible happened at home.

There is a cord between my phone and I, and is only gotten stronger as new tech comes out. And I don’t begrudge this. From my phone I can read the news, check social media, read a book, write a blog post, take pics, even work on my novel anywhere in the world. I can communicate with people from all over, give directions to people who are lost, and answer random questions.

I think my life is fuller because of this little pocket computer.

So much has changed in just ten years. What’s it going to be like in 2025? I’ll be 47 then, and still reading to go with the new tech, I hope.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2015 in On Writing

 

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Justice or Peace?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot today, especially after reading this news article. Do we want justice, or do we want peace?

I can hear the answer already… we want both. Right? Of course we want both. We deserve both! You can’t have one without the other. Etc.

But what is justice? Sometimes it’s easy enough to spot the just answer. A person steals your car they should replace your car. A person defaces your fence with spray paint? They should repaint it.

A person kills your spouse? That’s when it starts getting murky. Is justice to lock them away? Is it justice to kill them too?

In the middle east there is constant fighting and killing because one party feels wronged by another and they want JUSTICE! There can be no peace without justice.

After WWII there were a great many people who had to decide what justice was in that situation. They had peace. They signed a treaty and gave up the war. But what about payment for all the lives lost? The suffering? Who’s fault was it and who was going to pay? The German army alone contained about 10 million people. Then there was Stalin, and all the things he did to his people. And captains of the guard, and various people who just turned over the Jews. Who was to blame? The person who started it? Those who went along with it? The ones who made the orders and threatened to kill them if they didn’t go along with it?

In the end they tried 24 men for the millions of lives lost. Was this justice? That all the others who had anything to do with the war, or killing, just went home and went back to their lives?

The alternative was worse.

Maybe there can’t be true peace without justice, but sometimes justice might not look like justice to the casual observer.

If someone starts spreading rumors about you that you are a mean and horrible person, and then you start acting like a mean and horrible person to that person because the rumors then you are proving them right. In the case of the original article, ISIS spreads the story that Jordan, and others, are terrifying people who kill their prisoners. And now Jordan did kill their prisoners. ISIS now can say “See, look, we are right. It is as we said.”

It’s a tricky thing, these politics between countries. You get into group dynamics, and herd mentalities on massive scales.

I don’t know the answer. I like to think education, and humanitarian aid would help. Teaching them to help themselves, and bringing them up out of the isolationism imposed on them into the global world. But I don’t know.

What I do know: As long as the eye for an eye mentality keeps going there can be no peace. “Justice” for the wrongs you perceive on this massive scale sometimes have to be let go of in order to go on with the process of healing.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2015 in On Writing

 

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