We make a lot of sacrifices in the service of becoming successful. We sacrifice leisure time to take on additional duties at work or spend more time writing. We sacrifice time with our friends and loved ones. We sacrifice our hobbies and the things we do for fun. We sacrifice our health, both mental and physical.

But it’s worth it, right? If we just work hard enough, one of these days it’s all going to pay off. We’ll be able to pay off our student debt, or afford to buy a house, or be able to send our kids to college, or land a book deal that we can support ourselves with, or develop a big enough following that we can live off the proceeds…

We spend our lives following this mirage of success. One day it’ll pay off. One day we’ll get where we’re going, and we’ll finally be able to relax, catch up with friends, spend time with our loved ones, and do the things we enjoy. People chase this mirage until the day they die– which is likely to happen sooner rather than later if you never give yourself a chance to relax.

We need to talk about this.

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Many of you are probably wondering what happened to me– did I get arrested? Die? Give up? And no, it’s none of the above.

Remember when I called the Other Job a cancerous mass that’s slowly consuming my life? Well, the Other Job is why I’ve been more or less absent the entire month of June.

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Wondering where the blog posts and Patreon content are at? Well, so am I.

All joking aside, though, I know exactly where they’re at. I have a couple of blog posts and a ton of writing planned out– I just need time to work it. The Other Job continues to eat an extremely excessive amount of time– 75 hours this week– and I’m running on empty.

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After running my Patreon page for a little over half a year and seeing what garners the most interest, I’m looking to update my tier rewards to reflect what I’ve learned. If you’re already a subscriber or looking to become one, don’t worry– you won’t lose access to anything you have access to now.

I plan to move some rewards around and add additional rewards to several tiers. The hope is that this will this attract more patrons, as well as making it easier for me to fulfill my obligations each month. (The latter has been difficult at times, what with the Other Job eating between 65 and 75 hours a week since the start of this year.)

Here’s a breakdown of proposed changes.

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A while back, I saw an interesting question posed on Twitter.

Imagine you’re talking to movie producers making a movie of your book. They want to change your MC’s sexual orientation or race or both! How would you feel about that?

And the answer is… well, it depends.

Thinking of main characters like Adrian in Necrotic City, it wouldn’t bother me a whole lot. He was designed to tell a story. He could be a person of color. He could be gay, or bisexual, or asexual. (And in fact, I deliberately never said that much about his orientation for that reason.) Changing those things about him wouldn’t fundamentally alter the story I wrote.

That’s the key concept here, though: it wouldn’t fundamentally alter the story.

Continue reading “Would You Be Willing To Change Your Main Character’s Identity?”

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The author is tired. Not the “wow, that was a long day!” kind of tired, but the “struggling to keep up with an avalanche of deadlines and obligations month after month after month” kind of tired. The tired that comes from never being able to get caught up, and from an Other Job that’s perpetually short-staffed and disastrously managed.

If you’re one of the author’s Patreon supporters, you may have been reading the Iceball Planet stories. They’re inspired by the hellish conditions, poor management, and rampant safety violations at the Other Job. Management keeps saying things will get better, but they never do. They get worse.

The author is tired, and he has reached his breaking point. Last night he considered, for perhaps the first time in his life, just not going back. Poor planning from upper management means that things are about to take an abrupt turn for the worse… and the author is far too tired to deal with this.

To that end, the author is going to take a brief break from blogging to job search and evaluate his options, and will return in 2020. There probably won’t be a post next weekend, and possibly the one after that (but we hope the author will be back before then.) Posts to Patreon and social media should continue as they normally would.

The author would like to thank you all for reading this blog and supporting his writing. And if you’re not already subscribed to his Patreon feed, you should definitely check it out! There’s a lot of cool stuff over there, from monthly short stories to excerpts from works in progress, deleted scenes, and insights into the author’s writing process. Signing up costs as little as $2 a month.

Looking forward into 2020, the author hopes to get caught up and bring you more awesome short fiction, published novels, and interesting articles. We also hope he’ll regain his sanity and stop referring to himself in the third person. Until then, please stay safe and be kind to each other.

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Recently someone I know asked, How important is it to have positive male role models in your work?

I find this question interesting on a number of levels. The first is the obvious qualifier: male role models.

I and my childhood friends may have grown up in the ‘80s, but we escaped a lot of the gendered BS– You know, the that’s for girls/boys, you can’t have that. Or, you can’t act/dress like that, people will think you’re a *gender other than the one you were assigned at birth.* (Not to say that those attitudes weren’t, and aren’t, still alive and well– just that we escaped them.)

So I find the emphasis on male role models peculiar. Wouldn’t a good role model be a good role model for everyone? Or are we specifically talking about good examples of how to be male? The latter seems weird and unnecessary.

As a child, I looked up to a wide range of characters. I liked Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, but I also greatly admired the crew of the Pride of Chanur in CJ Cherryh’s Chunar Saga. I considered both Morgaine and Nhi Vanye, of Cherryh’s Morgaine Cycle, to be equally good role models. *

Good science fiction smashes the pointless constructs of our present day and age, or turns them on their ear, or points out where we are headed if we continue on as we are. Like it or not, gender roles are one of those constructs. I think it’s more important that a main character be a relatable person with positive attributes than a good male/female role model.

If you remove the gender qualifier, you have another interesting question. How important is it to have positive role models in your work? And the answer is, I’ve never really thought about my characters like that.

I generally want my main characters to be people the reader can both associate with and look up to. Basically, if someone loved my work so much that they tried to emulate one of my main characters, would it make the world better or worse? I enjoy writing characters that would make the world a better place if they were real.

I definitely think that characters which exemplify positive characteristics, without being unrealistic, are important. Art is a reflection of society; but at the same time, society is absolutely influenced by the art and media it consumes. Authors have something of a responsibility to leave the world a better place than we found it– not only by giving readers an escape from the horrors of the world, but also by showing how people can make the world a better place.

*Editor’s note: sorry for the Wikipedia links, but they’re the easiest place to find all the info about a book’s characters, setting, and plot in one place.

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This wasn’t the blog post I was going to do, but the other post is still in production and this piqued my interest. I was scrolling through Twitter and came across this tweet, and it made me think.

“I feel so lucky to be writing at a time where there’s the Twitter #writingcommunity for support. This process would be so much lonelier & so much more discouraging without it.”

My first response is one of puzzlement. Wouldn’t we all write anyway? There will always be the attention seekers who wilt if there isn’t a steady supply of praise and encouragement, but I like to think those are a small minority among the author population. 

Continue reading “The Writing Community”

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It’s hard to believe that yet another summer is nearly over. The leaves are turning yellow in my corner of the world, and the infamous low-lying areas experienced their first frost a few weeks ago. Where does the time go?

In my case, time flies when you’re screaming busy. I’ve been invited back for Part II of a superb speculative fiction anthology, Trumpland 2020: Divided We Stand, and am currently working on my entry.

Hel’s Fury, my submission for the first Trumpland collection, was extremely dark. It was kind of a worst case scenario, a hodgepodge of national news and the worst of my state’s own tendencies.

I’m happy to announce that my as-yet-untitled submission to 2020 will be much brighter. My goal is to highlight some of the good in Alaska and Alaskans, the spirit of community and resistance that I grew up with and still see occasionally in Alaska’s remote corners.

I’m also exploring Patreon as an avenue to get my short fiction in front of more readers and support myself while doing it. The first wave of September tier rewards are now live and I’m particularly excited about this month’s story, which digs into the origins of my cyborg OC Frank the Tank.

As some of you who’ve been with me the longest may know, Frank started out as a bit character in a piece of flash fiction.

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This article was inspired by a discussion in a writing group, and a series of questions that were posed about the inclusion of trigger warnings in books. But first, a word on what trigger warnings are –and what they aren’t.

Trigger warnings attempt to forewarn audiences of content that may cause intense physiological and psychological symptoms for people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. People with PTSD have physical, emotional, and mental symptoms that are triggered by stimuli that is similar to the trauma the individual experienced. Hence the “trigger” in trigger warning.

Individuals do not have control over what triggers their PTSD, but many have personal strategies to cope with triggers when encountered. Those strategies work best when the trigger is expected, hence the importance of warnings: they give people the forewarning necessary to put on their metaphorical armor, or to decide not to partake in that particular media.

Trigger warnings aren’t meant to warn people of content they might find offensive. Unfortunately, the rise of “Lol ur triggered!” troll culture has led to a shift in how the term is perceived.

Continue reading “Trigger Warnings In Writing”

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