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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I’m proud to announce that today marks an exciting new step in my writing journey! But first, a proper introduction.

My name is Leland, and I write science fiction and crime stories. Most take place in the future, some are set in my home state of Alaska, and many contain hints of the otherworldly and unexplained.

I’ve been writing for the better part of 25 years, and for most of that time I wrote for myself. Writing was and is my escape from the grim grasp of reality. It’s a ray of light in a dark world.

In October of 2017 I published a cyberpunk science fiction novel called Necrotic City; and as of now I’m working on the sequel and a couple of other novel-length projects. I also run a weekly blog where I share flash fiction, short stories, reviews, and my thoughts on our high tech, low life world.

Money is tight, and because of the Other Job that pays the majority of my bills, so is writing time. My goal is to be able to write full time, so I’m trying something new: I’m launching a Patreon page.

I know there are a lot of you out there who enjoy my writing. Whether it’s the sequel to Necrotic City, my short stories and flash fiction, or my reviews and writing advice, becoming my patron is a great way to make it possible for me to create more of the content you love.

For as little as $2 a month you can gain access to at least one piece of brand-new fiction per month, excerpts from works in progress, deleted scenes, and exclusive insights into the weird worlds I create. If you think about it, that’s a pretty good deal. Virtually nothing in life is that cheap– not even a cup of coffee.

Kindly stop by my Patreon and check out the reward tiers. August’s monthly rewards are already up, and there’s also some free short fiction. Whether you choose to pledge a little or a lot, your contribution is greatly appreciated!

The following excerpt is a sneak peek at one of August’s patron rewards. Enjoy!

From A Call in the dark, Available now on Patreon:

The hulking wreck of an interstellar cruiser hung above an undeveloped world, baking under the gaze of the system’s giant-class star. The wreckage should have been wholly unable to host life. Debris formed a lethal halo around it, ejected from open ports and shattered shielding. Whatever had happened to the cruiser, it had been bad.

Stellar surveys reported it had been there for some time. The wreck was a permanent fixture, an ever-present star in the night sky of the planet below. It had been there for what CF46’s human cargo would have called ‘generations.’

And yet he was reading a distress signal that no other passing ship had registered… or chosen to register.

“…emergency. …support failing! Requesting immediate assistance…”

Support me on Patreon to read the rest!

A  q&A about my patreon launch

Q: Oh no! Does this mean you won’t be posting flash fiction and short stories for free on your blog anymore?

A: Absolutely not! I plan to continue posting here as I have been. Supporting me on Patreon is a way to access additional content and show your support for the stuff I create. 

Q: Isn’t asking for additional money from your readers kind of, you know, greedy? You already get paid when people buy your book(s).

A: The vast majority of the content I create is free, but at the end of the day I still need to eat. I want to make a full-time career out of writing, and that means I need to do one of two things: focus my effort purely on for-profit writing, or explore additional sources of writing-related revenue. I’m hoping that in addition to providing my fans with more awesome content, Patreon will act as a tip jar for those who enjoy my work.

Have questions I haven’t answered here? Feel free to ask them in the comment section. And remember, whether you choose to support me on Patreon or not, I appreciate you. Thank you for reading the things I write. You rock!

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KDP Print

As most authors who used CreateSpace are aware, last fall Amazon axed the service in order to increase enrollment in their new KDP Print program. What follows is an account of my transition to the new service and how books printed by KDP compare to those from CreateSpace.

This tale holds a couple of important caveats for anyone with books currently being printed by KDP. You’ll also probably get the feeling that I’m not a huge fan of Amazon– and it’s true, I’m not. I’m not a fan of any massive, industry-dominating corporate entity that makes a few people disgustingly wealthy at the expense of buyers, small businesses, and content creators.

Continue reading “KDP Print: A Word of Warning”

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Editor dictionary definition

Last week I explained why editing is essential to the publishing process and how to go about snagging your very own helpful editor. This week I’m going to explain some money-saving shortcuts you can take to reach a professional, polished final product without breaking the bank.

While you should never forgo professional editing entirely, there are plenty of things you can do to produce a cleaner manuscript that will require less professional help.

Continue reading “Editing On A Budget”

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Editor dictionary definition

Continuing from last week’s post, where I talked about the reason some writers are wary of editors, this week I’m going to explain how to find an editor of your own. (Or editors, if that’s how you roll.)

Editing is an essential part of preparing your work for publication, whether you write short stories, novellas, or full length novels. No matter how strong your-self editing game is, a manuscript can always benefit from a second, trained set of eyes.

Here’s why.

Continue reading “How to Catch an Editor And Why You Should”

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Editor dictionary definition

If you ask a random sampling of indie authors how they feel about editors, you’ll probably get a wide range of responses.

Some have worked with editors they loved from the start. Some had a few false leads before they found the right editor. And many have a notebook full of advice on what (and occasionally who) to avoid. (That advice can vary from author to author, especially on the subject of what an editor should charge.)

Lastly, especially among the unpublished and those who haven’t worked with an editor, you’ll probably find a surprising amount of distrust and dislike. Some people attribute this to fear of criticism. The thing is, it’s not that simple.

Continue reading “Editors: Trust, Confidentiality, and Mutual Respect”

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