RIP Art Bell – Truth is Stranger than Fiction

Wow – we lost a few bright sparks over the past two days. Along with R. Lee Ermey, We said good-bye to Art Bell this weekend. Ermey, of course, is near and dear to everyone’s heart but I was more affected by the loss of Art Bell. Bell, of course, was the mad genius behind the Coast to Coast AM radio show.

Because of his interest in conspiracy theories and the paranormal, Coast to Coast was destined to be outliers of radio and pop culture. Rather than running from this reality, Bell embraced it, and this gave him a certain level of freedom when it came content and programming. It worked for him too – 2.75M people still tune in every week to hear whatever junk science or Hollow Earth theory is currently popular.

Out of this carnival, Bell’s show occasionally took us on journeys that make surreal podcasts like Night Vale green with envy. Take the following clip, for example …

Bell understood that radio was ‘theater of the mind,’ and used that to his advantage. Sometimes the best storytelling doesn’t sound like a story at all.

We’ll miss you, you crazy nut. I hope they have a mic and a transmitter, wherever you happen to show up next.

Foreverest – Done – Out for comments

As promised, I finished Foreverest and it’s out for comments among my tiny group of Beta Readers. Already getting positive feedback … I can’t wait to submit it for publication.

In preparation for submission, I looked through the Internet and updated my List of Scifi Magazines that Actually Pay Writers. It’s part of my Free Author Tools section, which you’re always welcome to check out and make use of for yourself.

Finally, you should read Chuck Wendig’s serialized discussion about writers and luck on Twitter. It’ll answer a few questions for you, if you’re wondering how all of this is supposed to work.

More Scifi Short Stories in Production

Back in the saddle, again. ­čÖé

Had to unplug for a bit, and get my head together as I work on turning Mesh into the story it deserves to be. Where many writers say that you need to write 1-2K words per day, I’m from the school that says ‘what’s the point of writing a thousand words no one wants to read?’

Sometimes it’s better to hang back and sharpen the saw, as Stephen Covey says.┬áMeanwhile, writing other short stories and that means you’ll have some new sci-fi to read very soon. Here’s a quick preview:

Quantum State is an homage to a number of movies, video games and TV shows … I think you’ll enjoy it.

Foreverest is a neo-noir story … a simple matter of a wealthy socialite, and murder.

Siloed continues developing the world I started creating in Body Issues … and the human costs of biotechnology.

I’m working on some new free wallpapers, too. Setting new expectations of quality for myself means some delays in release, but my hope is that you’ll be pleased with the final product.

Happy Monday! ­čÖé

The Bob Ross School of Science Fiction

I love Bob Ross. Maybe you do, too. I love the fact that his entire TV show is available on Youtube:

Love him for his talent, love him for his afro, or love him for his voice … I’ve yet to find someone who doesn’t love Bob Ross. It’s always a surprise to people when they learn that this gentle man was also a Master Sergeant in the Air Force.┬áBob Ross inspires me because he didn’t find success until the second or third act of his career, but once he did he seemed happy and content for the rest of his life.

We should all be so lucky.

Even though Ross’ painting was not without its own controversy, he remained a tranquil space for viewers. I think about this when I think about the kind of writer I want to be, and the kind of choices I want to make as a creator.

With Ross, the tension and the action are in the work, not in the man. We’re free to let our minds go, experiment, and try new things. He seems to navigate the line between art and commerce without compromising either. He found his niche, occupied it comfortably, and we still enjoy his legacy today.

I see this as a learning lesson for me. Maybe you’re also trying to figure out how to write, how to make, how to do without sacrificing your values. In a perfect world, I could crank out stories night and day, with no thought to rent, bills or adulting. I haven’t found the secret sauce, yet.

However, I remain confident that if I keep looking, that I’ll find a way. Bob Ross found a way to make it work. Maybe we can, too.


Thank the Maker #1 – Amazing Art and Music

If it’s true that we rise by lifting others, then I want to make sure I’m doing my part. Two artists caught my eye this week – Hobo Johnson and Jacek Pilarski – both independent makers doing amazing work in their particular genre.

Jacek Pilarski is a matte and VFX artist. He makes wonderfully realistic paintings of fantastic locations. I was particularly drawn in by his London 2033 painting:

You’ll probably dig some of his concept art, as well. Continue reading

Grind It Out – Keep Going No Matter What

I’m in that low period of creation. Everything seems wrong. Nothing seems right. Every instinct I have about writing, storytelling is being put to the test as I edit Mesh.

Googling for inspiration, I ran across this quote by Guy Kawasaki.┬áHe was the original marketer for Mac back in the eighties and he’s been behind several monolithic Silicon Valley inspirations since then.

I respect his story because like him, my journey is a series of efforts in pursuit of a larger goal. Will Mesh be the book I want it to be? Will it find the readers I want it to find? I have no idea. I do know that I have to try and so until my destiny arrives, I have to keep grinding.

I hope you have found something worth grinding out, too.

New for March – Free Scifi Wallpaper

Welcome to March. Here’s another free wallpaper – this one’s been sized to work with your favorite mobile device. Been working on this one a while. I’ll see a free picture on Unsplash and reimagine it in a sci-fi context.

I started out with this picture: and now it looks like this:

From the very beginning – the boy looked like he was getting abducted by aliens or something – so I ran with that idea. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it. Welcome to March, 2018.




Ready Player One: Bad Writing Doesn’t Matter

I was about three chapters into ‘Ready Player One’ when it hit me: Ernie Cline is the Dave Grohl of authors. As in, I love the guy, but I’m not a fan of his work. Logical dichotomies invited my geek-auteur brain to divide by zero.┬áThankfully, Reddit was there to help me out. I created a thread on /r/writing to talk about it. This is about everything that happened next.

Before I say anything else, let me say this: I love Ernie Cline. Been a fan of his since 2002 or so, when I fell in love with his spoken-word┬áperformances about dorky topics. Cline has a brilliant knack for tapping into nerdly zeitgeist┬áinto a Robin Williams-style┬ástream of consciousness. You can’t help but respect that.

It should be no surprise then, that I’m happy for him and the success of Ready Player One. Seriously, isn’t that every author’s dream? Your debut novel turns into a Spielberg project. Who wouldn’t love to trade places with Ernie Cline for a day, to experience that level of ‘you’ve arrived,’ in your life?

“But you said you didn’t like Ready Player One,” you might be saying. Yes, that’s true … but that’s not the point. As one Redditor put it: “as a writer myself I know how much easier it is to trash a book than to write one. Completing a novel is a huge accomplishment.” So make no mistake: this post isn’t about trashing Ready Player One (RPO).┬áThis is about what RPO’s success can teach us.┬á Continue reading

Sorry, I Won’t Like Your Facebook Page

Wait, don’t run off yet. Hear me out: this is something you need to know.

Sorry, I Won't Like Your Facebook Page

Don’t take this the wrong way, but I won’t be liking your Facebook page. Like you, I get three or four requests per week, authors and other creative people asking me to Like their Facebook page. I love my online friends, but I ignore the requests, and I go through a little guilt-trip every single time.

It’s nothing personal. In fact, it’s the culmination of a decision based on years of being a social media manager before starting over as a writer:

Facebook is the Worst Social Media Platform for Authors, Ever

No, seriously. Facebook sucks if you’re an author. Don’t take my word for it: Look at all the numbers.┬áEven if people weren’t actively going elsewhere for their social media, you’re never going to get anywhere if you use Facebook to find new readers. People are getting tired of Facebook and it shows. Even social media marketers actively debate the efficacy of Facebook promotions.

“But I’ve figured out how to get more likes,” you’ll say. Really? Do you plan to be more successful than George Takei? Even Mr. Sulu took to the screen to slam FB’s policies of pay-to-see. Just because they Like your page doesn’t guarantee you’ll actually get shown on their feeds. It’s a bottomless pit and I don’t feel good about participating in that charade any more.

That’s not to say that Facebook doesn’t have its uses. Heck, I want to engage with other creative people on a professional level; Facebook is still useful for that. But as far as marketing myself, my books, or my new projects, Facebook is useless.

So, it’s nothing personal. I just don’t use Facebook that way. Don’t ask me to waste your time, because I won’t do it.