2021 Has All the Fun

2021 Has All the Fun

Another year, another set of writing goals. 2021 will be a bit different in that I've already been hard at work getting things prepared for publication—or merely fixing up the project that I delayed from last year. Either way, I do plan to continue my goal of self-publishing at least one book each year. With most conventions postponed or canceled this year, I'll certainly have time to sit down and work on these projects. Buried Colony Despite the setback I had last year, I still plan on self-publishing Buried Colony as soon as possible (before it becomes a reality). I'll be re-working the parts that need attention in January and will get a few beta readers to check my work before proceeding with the advanced reader copies again. Fortunately, a lot of formatting and design has already been completed, so it's really just the content that needs some polishing before publication. I also hope to release this as one of the first...
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The Hindsight of 2020

As the saying goes, "hindsight is 20/20." This year has been a bit challenging and different from past years due to the pandemic. I didn't have nearly as many opportunities to go to conventions since they were all canceled or delayed to future years. While staying at home would have provided me with plenty of opportunities to write, I have also learned that having an infant daughter is a challenge that I had not accounted for in my plans. Regardless of these challenges, I managed to complete at least a few things in 2020, based on the goals I set forth at the beginning of the year. Let's see how I did in this year's... 2020 YEAR IN REVIEW The Ascent of the Writer (Ironed Man / The Last Immortal) In part due to the "hindsight" saying, I decided this year to go back and collect together all the little bits of writing I had written over the last 20 years. The result...
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How to pivot as a writer

If 2020 has taught me anything, it's how to be flexible. It's quite difficult to predict what will happen in a year, let alone one with such a massive global event like COVID-19. Fortunately, writing is a solitary activity, so writing new stories isn't terribly difficult when I'm forced to stay home. Unfortunately, this pandemic has been such a historical moment that it's difficult to ignore it in anything written in the present day. While I had plans to write a rather dramatic story set in the real world and in present times, I'm now considering moving it out a few years to gain some distance from COVID. Hopefully, this whole mess will be done by the time I start writing this book, and I'll have a bit of hindsight to help mold the characters and plot. So far, I've already gained a few key points that I want to integrate into the story that will certainly be familiar to anyone...
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Pretend Politics

I just turned 35 a few weeks ago. According to the Constitution, since I am a natural-born citizen of the United States, I am now eligible to run for President. With the latest Presidential election upon us, I thought I’d take some time to figure out what I would change if I were running this country. There’s clearly a lot that could use some improvement. One of the challenges of identifying what’s wrong with any situation is how easy it is to focus only on the symptoms instead of the root cause. One of the most memorable television shows I watched growing up was Connections. This PBS show that aired in the mid-1990s would take random objects/themes and show how they are all interrelated. I loved how these elements of “cause and effect” revealed how interconnected our world is. Nothing is truly isolated. As a scientist and writer, I can explore hypothetical situations. Granted, many of these scenarios rely on my knowledge...
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When did the writing begin?

Before this year began, I decided the idiom of “hindsight is 20/20” was an appropriate chance to reflect on the writing I’ve done over the years. While I managed to collect over 200 pages of my written works from the last 20 years in my latest book, The Ascent of the Writer (available today!), my writing “career” started well before then. I’ve never been one to throw away anything I’ve created. My basement has quite a few boxes and cardboard portfolios filled with all the visual art that I made throughout my elementary education. Among the pencil sketches and finger painting, I also managed to keep some of my earliest writings. These go back as far as 1992 when I was in the first grade. Some of my earliest stories were written in 1992. It’s quite a trip down memory lane reading some of these “stories” I wrote back then. I still remember the inspiration for some of them—some of which were just...
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Why I don’t make a living on my writing

Why I don’t make a living on my writing

Writing is my hobby. I have a full-time job, so there is no need for me to make a living on my writing. Since I do it mostly for fun, I’m not too concerned about making money. Most importantly, for tax purposes, writing is my hobby. Sure, I try to run it like a business by keeping track of expenses and sales, but overall I’m not doing much more than breaking even. This is fine. After all, a hobby is usually considered a “money pit” where you don’t expect to get a return on investment other than the pure enjoyment it brings you (think about other hobbies like restoring cars, reading books, or gardening as examples). A few years ago, I received a review request from someone who had written a book. They were self-publishing and admitted that they were currently homeless and that this book (that they had taken over a decade to write) was their only ticket out of...
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Eating the Elephant

“There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” – Desmond Tutu Let’s address the elephant in the room: self-publishing a book takes a lot of work. In fact, plenty of accomplishments in our lives seem daunting at first glance, but turn out to be just an enormous amount of smaller tasks. The trick with any of these large projects is the ability to break the end goal into smaller milestones that are easily achievable. Nobody expects to climb a mountain with one giant leap. However, with enough small steps, even Mount Everest can fall to a determined climber (given they have the right gear for it). While enough determination can overcome most things, experience helps lay the framework for completing a long-term goal. Even with endless hours of commitment, there are enough “unknown unknowns” in any field of interest that prevent a neophyte from becoming a master. Heck, even with enough steps, it is unlikely that...
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Logic and the Suspension of Disbelief

Fiction writers have the most freedom to write whatever they want. After all, fiction is—by definition—not true. Thus, without the constraints of truth holding them down, fiction writers can write about things that don’t make any sense. This is how the more fantastical genres of science fiction and fantasy can get away with having aliens, dragons, and any other number of crazy things the author can think up. While fiction doesn’t have to hold to the tenets of truth, there is one fundamental foundation needed for this—or any other—writing. That foundation is logic. Even if readers can accept a world that has faster-than-light travel or a ring that can make its wearer invisible, if there isn’t a logic supporting these claims, the reader will begin to doubt the world the writer has created. The second that doubt creeps in, disbelief isn’t far behind. A hole in logic is a hole in the plot. Because there’s no need to write factual things in fiction,...
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The List of Best Movies

The List of Best Movies

Anyone who has met me and talked to me for any considerable amount of time will know that I like movies. This love of cinema started in high school but blossomed in college. While I was in college, I decided to watch through the American Film Institute (AFI) top 100 movie lists. I found many classics had become my favorites in this process. After graduating, I then set out and watched all the movies that had won the Oscar for Best Picture. This was slightly less inspiring, as there were some obvious snubs over the Academy Awards’ almost 100-year history. When I moved back to Colorado, I picked up a copy of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die when a nearby Borders Bookstore was going out of business. This was an eclectic list, but it gave me the best quote when it comes to listing out the “best” movies. I’m paraphrasing somewhat, but it basically said, “Sometimes you...
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Answers to a new writer’s FAQ

Nobody is born proficient in anything. We all have to start somewhere when it comes to learning new skills. Sure, there might be a prodigy or two out there, but instances of individuals with extreme natural talent are rare. Writing is just like any other skill. Nobody starts out knowing everything about it or how to do it. Consequently, I’ve seen a lot of the same questions pop up in online forums from new writers who are just trying to get a handle on this skill. Some are trying to improve, but many don’t know what they don’t know and seem to ask some fairly basic questions. Since I’ve recently realized I’ve been a published writer for over a decade, I thought I could shed some light on some frequently asked questions (FAQs) that I’ve seen from numerous new writers. Q: I want to write X. Should I write it? The addendum to this question is usually, “It’s already been done before.”...
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